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General Chat Thread, Costly hi-tech kit lies unused in schools, says study in General; Originally Posted by Matus I'm going to say something that will probably get me lots of stick. ;-) When I ...
  1. #16

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matus View Post
    I'm going to say something that will probably get me lots of stick. ;-) When I say we, I mean me and the techy people around me, this is quite possibly not representative. I also only worked as a network manager for a few years before I trained to teach, so I'm not as qualified to talk about the tech side of this as many others, I'm thinking more of the intended end result (which I know with bad teacher training and attitudes is not what we normally get). but anyhow...

    Because we do.

    We can keep teaching the way we always have. We don't need to change at all. Our maths teaching has gone on fine for years with just text books and cubes, we don't need comparatively expensive numicon or bead strings. Half the times they stay in the draws they are first put in becaus its a pain for a etacher to change tohe wy they have alway taught. It would make for better maths teaching though. Rooms of windows xp (or 8) desktop pcs are easy to manage, staff can use and then we can spend more money on stuff that makes our life easier, like switches and server kit. We'd never have to train teachers to use new innovations, we'd never have to fight people to use things they don't want to and we'd never see kit languishing in a cupboard. We would also be failing our children. We use IE as our main browser at school, its easy for us tech staff, its useful for so many other pieces of networking software. Our county school IT dept doesn't even have packages for chrome or firefox. Yet when the kids go home they enter a world where most browsing is now done in chrome. We use desktop RM1s because they make our life easy, no wifi, no batteries, easy to manage over cc4. We use laptops in trollies, but we don't like them because we have to carry them about and sometimes laptops are taken home by teachers and they are out of our reach. We oppose ipads becase they are hard for us to deploy and maintain and the old guard of teachers may never get round to using them. We would never consider teaching them to use iPhones or iPod touches, way too fiddly and dangerous. Yet around 10% of browsing is now done from a mobile device, and about 60% of that is an apple device. Id guess that those stats probably grow if you look specifically children and young families with children. We need to teach our children to use as many different devices as possible, as when they grow up they may brows the net and do their job on tablets, smart phones, consoles, set top boxes, laptops, desktops and devices we have not even thought of yet. We need to teach adaptability even if a plethora of devices in our schools is an administrative and training nightmare.

    I don't think mobile computing with tablets and smart phones is a fad and i think its share will increase. I don't think apple is going to disappear any time soon, even if they just become one of many. This is the real world we are sending our kids into, its the one we need to teach them how to exist in.

    Following trends in the real world has become a dirty word, (oh its apple, its bad by default), but its that real world we are training our kids for.
    Following trends is fine, but it has to be properly thought through. This article describes the problem quite well - schools are buying things to follow those trends and then failing to make use of them properly, and your post appears to be trying to contradict this somehow - the evidence speaks for itself. The techs on this site oppose many technologies for some very simple reasons: lack of management, lack of curriculum integration, lack of ongoing funding, and sometimes, lack of skills - combined with a lack of funding to train technical staff in these new technologies.

    On the specific topic of browsers - what difference does it make what browser a child is taught how to use the web on? Transferable skills should be taught, not specific technologies.

    On mobile computing - of course it isn't a fad - just the way it is being sold at the moment as some form of panacea for all our eduction and IT problems is. Tablets are great, in the right circumstances. So are laptops, desktops, PDAs and whatever else is out there. We shouldn't be buying into the compulsive behaviour of the average consumer though. I have a bunch of friends who are all non-IT people and of those who bought themselves tablets, because of the fancy adverts and current hype about them, and after a few months they simply don't use them as they have no need for them, instead having gone back to their laptops!

    Schools are not there just to teach the latest fad - they're there to give a wide ranging grounding in key skills for children to progress onwards from. You don't *need* IT to teach any subject other than IT, so when you do use IT, you have to use it properly.

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    spc-rocket (17th November 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matus View Post
    I don't think mobile computing with tablets and smart phones is a fad and i think its share will increase. I don't think apple is going to disappear any time soon, even if they just become one of many. This is the real world we are sending our kids into, its the one we need to teach them how to exist in.
    I'd agree with you on that. And yet many kids already turn up at school with a Smartphone, quite capable of doing at least internet research, yet they are told to put them away. In a few years many will have 4g phones capable of fast independent internet connectivity. Will they be using school supplied iPads then?

    On the issue of waste, there is some level of waste that should be expected in any organisation. If you didn't have any waste, no one would be pushing the boundaries and experimenting - there would be no innovation, no progress. Of course at some level of waste it becomes just ... wasteful and represents resource that should have been used elsewhere. What reports that sell on headlines of "Millions wasted in Schools" never address is what should normally be expected.
    Last edited by pcstru; 17th November 2012 at 06:24 PM.

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    IanT's Avatar
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    You would be amazed how much "kit" some schools buy and sits there for many months\years not being used...............and the cost of how much is spent........

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    Matus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    schools are buying things to follow those trends and then failing to make use of them properly, and your post appears to be trying to contradict this somehow.
    Ah, sorry, that was not my intention, plus I am only talking about my little world and the techies I was, and come into contact with, as well as our teachers. I was just trying to caution against throwing the baby out with the bath water and saying that buying new and hard to integrate tech is bad because it is under utilised. Many people I have come across have disregarded iPads because they will be hard to deploy/maintain and a strain to convince staff to use and while that’s true, since our end intention is to teach the children as best we can, then that’s something we need to deal with until apple gets them selves into order. Basically don't use tech just because it’s fashionable, but don't disregard it because its fashionable or a pain if its a benefit to the children.

    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    On the specific topic of browsers - what difference does it make what browser a child is taught how to use the web on? Transferable skills should be taught, not specific technologies.
    It was more an example than a major problem, and gain one possibly specific to my experience and locality, a reliance on one old faithful tech at the expense of diversity

    A lot of teachers and tech support are comfortable with one browser, one edition of one word processor, one spread sheet, one OS, one type of hardware. They know them, they are easy to manage and they know how to teach them. As a result, many of our primary age children are totally phased when they come across something that they have not seen at school or at home. My class had all been taught an old version of IE by their previous classes and possibly used iOS Safari at home. I showed them chrome last week and some of them got really confused, and those applications aren't even that different. We all assume that just being around some tech at home children will be good at them without any specific teaching. Its reminiscent of the study one council did a little while back. The gave all the pupils in one school a handheld computer (pre the popularity of tablets) and they used them in loads of subjects for their whole 6 years in school. They assumed that just by being young and by being exposed to them that they would learn how to use them perfectly. What they found was that by the end of year 6 the children could all do the specific tasks they had been taught, almost all had never found the spell check function. In our school our kids are in a similar situation, they need to be exposed to a greater range of devices and OS. We can't just assume they will transfer their skills and many primary age children just don’t do that unless sits pointed out to them.

    It always pains me to see our year 6s leave able to type a letter, draw a graph, find something on IE and play games on their parents iPhones, but incapable of video editing, web publishing, using mobile devices for anything other than games etc all of which would be of as much use to them in later life as drawing a picture in colour magic.


    I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit of the article and your post. It makes me very sad when I look at the visualisers only half the teachers use and the voting devices used by even less, but I don’t regret buying them. Seeing their benefits when they are used assures me of that. I'm still fighting at least 3 of our teachers to even get the laptops out and teach some ICT other than sending a TA out with the BeeBots. I don't regret buying the laptops, I lament my own ability to extoll tier benefits properly.

    I really want some iPads, I know they can be used well from the teachers who bring their own in and other schools I have seen using the well, but I know getting them in children hands would be an uphill battle with some teachers.


    Basically, to sum up my ramblings: Yes we have lots of unused or hard to integrate tech lying around. In general, don’t regret buying it or fight buying more, just battle the teachers to use it.
    Last edited by Matus; 18th November 2012 at 07:41 PM.

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    m25man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matus View Post
    I really want some iPads, I know they can be used well from the teachers who bring their own in and other schools I have seen using the well, but I know getting them in children hands would be an uphill battle with some teachers.
    After reading this I don't think I can bring myself to buy another iDevice.
    Apple Pays Less Than 2% Tax On Non-US Earnings

    Bring back blackboards and notepads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m25man View Post
    After reading this I don't think I can bring myself to buy another iDevice.
    ...or Android?

    Google pays just 6m UK tax

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    @nicholab started a thread about this being on Radio 4 this morning, I thought (by his thread description) that I might have issue with the content but after reading the BBC story online I must say I agree 100%. And it lies at the heart of the iPad debate I'm having here at the moment. Although Powerpoint/Projectors are used by nearly every teacher in nearly every lesson, they just support the old "Victorian" model of teaching and learning. IWB's tend to be used by half the teachers, half of the time.
    @witch has it right - the problem is Training. Not just in use of the technology, but also (more importantly) in 21st Century teaching practices.
    When I was completing my Learning Through Technology degree back in 2010, one of the aspects I looked into was how would teaching staff prefer to receive their training? Almost 70% went for the Victorian model of sitting at desks facing the front. Admittedly we had a large number of staff who had been in teaching for over 30 years, but they are now being replaced as they retire, by younger, more tech savvy staff, though the problems of "white elephants" still exist. To counter this the school has formed a strategy group, including our network manager, which amongst other things, reviews the implementation of new technology, and I believe that within this group the views of the IT techs carries the same weight of argument as that of any other member of staff.

  9. Thanks to beeswax from:

    Matus (19th November 2012)

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    Costly hi-tech kit lies unused in schools, says study

    Quote Originally Posted by beeswax View Post
    When I was completing my Learning Through Technology degree back in 2010, one of the aspects I looked into was how would teaching staff prefer to receive their training? Almost 70% went for the Victorian model of sitting at desks facing the front. Admittedly we had a large number of staff who had been in teaching for over 30 years, but they are now being replaced as they retire, by younger, more tech savvy staff, though the problems of "white elephants" still exist. To counter this the school has formed a strategy group, including our network manager, which amongst other things, reviews the implementation of new technology, and I believe that within this group the views of the IT techs carries the same weight of argument as that of any other member of staff.
    Interesting, primary or secondary?

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    A school I used to work at has a Mac Mini Server, still in it's box, in a cupboard. I worked for a IT Support company at the time. Only did 3 hours a week at the school. The ICT Co-ordinator bought the Mac Mini Server to manage the handful of iMacs they have. I just never had time to set it up. I was always too busy fixing faults in the classroom. The ICT CO-ordinator left, I left to go elsewhere and the last time I heard it was still in it's box not touched.... Crazy.

  12. #25

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matus View Post
    I really want some iPads, I know they can be used well from the teachers who bring their own in and other schools I have seen using the well, but I know getting them in children hands would be an uphill battle with some teachers.
    See, I still think you're putting the cart before the horse. You're specifying a technology rather than a problem to be resolved. Why iPads? Why not Android tablets? Why not Microsoft Surface? What's the use you can make from them?

    Basically, to sum up my ramblings: Yes we have lots of unused or hard to integrate tech lying around. In general, don’t regret buying it or fight buying more, just battle the teachers to use it.
    I think some spend on what industry would call 'research and development' is fine, but we're not just talking about that, we're talking about the massive amount of kit this refers to. Some of the things I would say we should regret buying would be interactive whiteboards, voting systems, visualisers, and even laptops for teachers. All of those things in a way are a waste of time and money, as the use was never sorted out before they were introduced into most schools. I include laptops for teachers there, as they were implemented without forethought as to how schools will sustain them. Once the scheme ended, suddenly the devices became something the school had to buy from their own budgets. Personally, I'm still a fan of getting rid of them and putting fixed PCs in all rooms instead. I don't know of any teachers here who doesn't have their own PC too.

    And that is the crux of the issue - planning. Hardly any is ever done when looking at these technologies. Can we seriously say that when we get technologies in, we are all doing a long term plan, to make sure the school can afford them over the next 5, 10, 15 years? Or how we will ensure they get used properly?

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    beeswax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matus View Post
    Interesting, primary or secondary?
    Secondary

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    As has been touched on by a few people, I thinking the issue is technology is changing how we CAN do things, teaching hasn't really changed at all. You get one or 2 teachers who want to do things differently but end up having to conform to the school standard. Add to that lovely blue sky thinking that some consultants get paid huge amounts to carry out and confusion reigns. The idea that every child has a mobile device to interactively participate in a lesson, submit work in realtime, peer review and research in groups and individually sounds fantastic but how many teachers could actually handle all that happening? So you end up with half way houses of incremental upgrades or intermediate tech. Think of visualisers being used to show text books and voting systems to engage students. Once the "wow!" has worn off and the teacher and/or students realise that they are really doing the same old stuff with either no real benefit of a bit more work then it gets shoved in the cupboard!

    The solution? No idea but I doubt we'll be consulted if it comes along

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    we all know of stuff that was bought without any real thought (which is why if im in the loop i try and get the school to buy 1 or 2 not 20 give them to people who i know/feel will get use of them and if they are used/usefull then go full scale you will probably have a few teachers using them who will promote the idea to other teachers better than you can). Voting systems are my bugbear they seem to be used for a week or two then in MOST cases consigned to a cupboard luckily the schools i have with them diddnt equip every class with a set but bought 2/3 and shared them round. Similar with visualisers some teachers make great use of them others dont even turn them on

    my 2p worth on tablets for what its worth
    ok for research just give them to a class and tell them to find out about x but as you can get a netbook/cheap laptop for less im not sure they actually add anything other than complexity. Now im sure there are some great apps but for the cost of a tablet and the app i would guess in lots of cases you could buy a site licence of some similar software and some netbooks/laptops.

    ms surface may change my mind esp the cheaper atom based win8 pro devices giving the best of both worlds but atm its back o the managing them issue the provided tools are not up to the job yet

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    mthomas08's Avatar
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    As the old saying goes, if its not broken dont fix it.

    "Costly digital technology that has the power to transform education often sits in boxes because teachers do not know how best to use it, a study claims"

    Sadly for us this half true, technology here does not sit in a box unused, instead its often abused. I am always happy and willing to try new things even though I will voice my opinion. We went through a time when staff wanted students to use laptops, they didnt have a clue how much work or cost involved. They also wouldnt believe how badly abused they would get. A fter spending a lot of money buying about 50 laptops - we ended up getting only 7 back working and the rest wrecked. Only 1 student got pulled out for a damaged screen yet every other kid got away with it. Like it or not they are kids, they struggle to look after their own stuff so why should they look after a piece of kit from the school?

    Its like iPads, you dont need an iPad to see what the world is using. Most of the kids can figure it all out after 5 minutes. If a kid can get a new mobile every 6 months and use that right away I am sure they will manage in life. Gadgets are becoming so easy to use which is why staff push for them on site because they think getting kids to logon to an iPad and get their drives/programs and everything will be instant.

    Cost, you also have to consider cost - like it or not schools have had budget cuts and are fighting for survival and enrolement. Is it worth spending 1000's of pounds for some devices just to access the internet? There is a difference between preparing them for work life outside of School and Personal life. Most companies/business's and even educational sectors will not provide iPads let alone laptops, instead they will have systems in place where you get what your given and only what you need not what you want.

    We here know that portable devices will be purchased again, we will voice our professional opinion - this includes work load/cost and what you will get not what you think you will get. Will they accept that no, will they listen no, who will they blame when we turn out to be right - us. The last person to walk in that door and say they wanted an iPad for work, we pointed them to something cheaper and less prettier and does the same thing - they didnt want to know.

    Some staff just simply do not understand the concept of Domains compared to Home Networks - that is one of the biggest problems. IT people are usually accused of not "bending" to something different yet the staff who want the iPads are not willing to look anywhere else for the same product because it is less pretty.

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    Technology continues to be perceived as some sort of 'silver bullet' that is somehow going to 'transform' education.....

    It won't. If anything will, Teachers will... by improving their own performance & by observing and sharing best practice with their colleagues & overcoming one of the biggest problems for teachers... motivating students. Sadly some 'experts' in teaching seem to think that giving students shiny toys like iPads will somehow motivate them to learn.

    My sympathy is with the teachers who have technology thrown at them.

    Fix the problems with lack of student motivation (easier said than done) by making lessons more interesting & learning more relevant & above all shift away from schools being exam factories, then we won't need to keep on installing shiny new technology that nobody wants/needs/knows how to use.

    Nobody has mentioned training ICT staff to use/support the new technology either. Too often we are given just enough kit to meet the perceived classrooom need without any test equipment or any spares & sometimes without any dedicated teaching staff equipment either.

    At my school we were given 30 iPads for a 'project'. No devices for teachers, none for ICT support to familiarise themselves with. No money for storage or charging facilities, no budget for apps, no thought about managing these devices in a Windows client server environment...... no thought about training ICT staff unfamilar with Apple products..... in fact no thought beyond 'here are 30 iPads.....'

    Needless to say as a project it has been less than successful in it's goals (where there any?) & has totally failed in hitting any targets in the timelines proposed (there were no discussions with ICT staff before the timeline was established). It would make a first class case study in how not to manage a technology project

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